Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo On Grant Balfour, Backup Catcher Chatter, Wilson Ramos

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo met with reporters last Saturday at NatsFest in the Gaylord Resort and Covention Center. - Photo © Ed Chigliak/Federalbaseball

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters this weekend that though he is happy with the roster as it's currently constructed, he's open to adding value if anything comes up. A bench bat? A backup catcher? Will the Nats add anything else for 2014?

"We like the club that we have right now," Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters this past Saturday when he met with reporters at NatsFest, which was held in the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. "But we're always open to add to the roster if it benefits us," Rizzo said. "So I wouldn't say that we're actively looking to add anybody, but we're certainly not going to turn our backs if opportunity knocks and we can get a value. We'll certainly look into it."

"We're not making a whole lot of phone calls to people, but if we see a value out there, we certainly would embrace it and see if it fits for us." - Mike Rizzo on Nationals remaining open to adding value

At this point, however, Rizzo said, any further moves would likely be the result of another team calling the Nationals.

"I think that's a fair assessment of the market," he said. "We're not making a whole lot of phone calls to people, but if we see a value out there, we certainly would embrace it and see if it fits for us."

The Nationals apparently thought they saw value in 36-year-old, free agent reliever Grant Balfour before he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rizzo confirmed that the Nats were interested in the right-hander who saved 62 games in the past two seasons with the Oakland A's. "We were in on Balfour," he said. "We thought that there was a value there and I think that sleeping in his own bed and being near to his home I think overrode what we were trying to get for him."

In spite of their pursuit of another late-inning reliever, the GM said he's comfortable with the bullpen options already on the Nationals' roster. "Very comfortable," Rizzo said. "We like our bullpen. We like our core players and we certainly like the construction of this roster. We [feel] that we filled some soft spots that we had on our roster last year and I think we’re an improved version of the 2013 team."

"We [feel] that we filled some soft spots that we had on our roster last year and I think we’re an improved version of the 2013 team." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo on this winter's move

One of those soft spots was filled by Jerry Blevins, the 6'6'' left-hander who was acquired from the A's in return for the 2013 Nats' Minor League Player of the Year, outfielder Billy Burns. A lack of lefties hurt the Nationals last season, and Rizzo said he was excited about what the 30-year-old Blevins will add to the bullpen. "We had good reports," Rizzo said, "good scouting reports on Blevins. He's a guy that takes the ball and can pitch multiple outs, multiple innings. And a guy that's had success on a championship-caliber [club]."

The other rumors this winter have revolved around the Nationals adding a left-handed bench bat and a backup catcher. Rizzo left the possibility of adding to the catching depth open, but reiterated that he's happy with the in-house options that are available.

"We're looking for value wherever we can find it," he said. "If a backup catcher that fits what we're trying to do were to become available, we certainly would look into it. We like the pack of guys that are going to compete for it, [Jhonatan] Solano, [Sandy] Leon and Chris Snyder. We feel that they are very, very capable backups and with so many teams in the big leagues looking for a good catcher, we feel that we've got a great catcher in Wilson Ramos and capable backups to go behind him."

Ramos remaining healthy is a big key for the 2014 Nationals and Rizzo said he's expecting big things from the 26-year-old catcher who put up a .272/.307/.470 line with nine doubles and 16 HRs in 78 games and 303 plate appearances, 218 of them in the second-half when he returned from the second of two hamstring injuries he suffered last season and put together a strong late run.

"It was important to be healthy and play," Rizzo said. "Because when he's healthy and playing he's very, very productive. As productive as anybody. So, he's got to stay on the field and he has to prove that he can be that guy."

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